WHATEVS…

Sierra's online journal

New love, forever love August 30, 2020

Day 19: Discuss “first love.”

 

“I’m having a midlife crisis.” The handful of people I’m closest with have had the distinct privilege of hearing me utter these words, usually amid heavy sobs or in a manic frenzy or while brooding about life in general. But am I really? Maybe, maybe not. There are so many days when I can do nothing but look around me and feel thankful for and proud of the life I’m fortunate enough to call mine. The life that I helped orchestrate through a series of careful choices and maybe a couple of reckless chances. And I’m in no way trying to detract from all the love and light and goodness around me. It’s there. I see it all. But despite all that, there are some days when I’ve got an acute awareness that many of life’s biggest decisions having already been made for/by me. Roots put down. Life cemented in place. More doors closed behind me than open in front of me.

This post has been about two years in the making. I’ve given it a lot of thought. Kicked the idea around in my head at all hours of the day and night. Searched for the right words that don’t make me sound ungrateful. Tried to formulate a coherent string of sentences that may help identify myself to others feeling the way I am. Unfortunately, this is as close as I’ve come. So here goes: On those really tough days, “midlife crisis” feels like the only descriptor adequate enough to define the profound feelings of…loss? Loss of youth. Loss of choices. Loss of opportunities to experience life’s big moments (and all of the feelings that are wrapped up in those experiences) just one more time.

One of those big life experiences is falling in love. And before I go on, it’s important to me to interject here and say a few things, beginning with that I am happily married. There is no doubt in my mind that I married my match and will live the rest of my life loving him. But this post isn’t about him. (If you want to read about him, you can do so here, where I gushed about him for our tenth wedding anniversary in 2018.) This post is about trying to find words to describe the differences between the love we have now versus “new love.” Because they are undeniably different.

The most succinct way I’ve ever seen the differences summed up came in a novel I read last fall, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. After reading, I jotted a quote,  my biggest takeaway from the story. It resonated with me then and it resonates with me even more as time goes on. Here’s the quote:

“She had always thought that exquisitely happy time at the beginning of her relationship…was the ultimate, the feeling they’d always be trying to replicate, to get back, but now she realized that was wrong. That was like comparing sparkling mineral water to French champagne. Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It’s light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But love after three children, after a separation and a near-divorce, after you’ve hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you’ve seen the worst and the best–well, that sort of a love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.”
excerpt from What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

There’s something to be said for new love, absolutely. For me, it starts with a spark of attraction that spreads like wildfire until a kaleidoscope of butterflies is flapping wildly in my gut. There are first dates and first kisses, tentative reaching and finding a comfortable rhythm. There’s giving and taking, yinning and yanging. There’s talking and listening and figuring each other out. An all-encompassing, breathless wanting. An I-can’t-get-enough need. My…sparkling mineral water certainly does quench a thirst, doesn’t it?

But no matter how exciting new love feels, those bubbles, that fizziness, it all eventually dissipates. Tattered, broken, unshiny parts are revealed. True colors poke through as if the harsh house lights have just flicked on after last call. And if you’re lucky, as I’ve been, you find the right tempo and the waltz truly begins. One two three, one two three. Count by count, all that feels good and right is boxed in. Fiercely protected. You lead each other through to the other side where love morphs into something more. A higher form. The French champagne.

And just as there’s much to be said about new love, so, too, is there about the kind of love we’ve got now, over twenty years after our first date. The forever kind. Love with the depth and breadth to encompass two lifetimes in one swooping arch. That kind of love is reliable, safe,  comfortable, even easy after as long as he and I have been together. But when I use these terms to describe it, he turns up his nose at me, somewhat regretful that he’s no longer responsible for the butterflies and fizz. But it’s important to note that you can’t get to here, where we are, without having lived through the newness and beyond. Our love has gone through breakups and fights  and more hard conversations than I can count. We’ve celebrated greatness, endured losses, faced hardships. We’ve created life and navigated parenting. We’ve supported each other in decisions that felt impossible to make, some with consequences that felt impossible to live with. And through it all, we’re still each others’ number one. And there’s no world in which I’d ever dare to replace or dispose of that. Ever.

Instead, I’ll close this with the valediction that he and I end every email, card, or letter to each other with. A phrase ripped from love letters between my paternal grandparents and inscribed on our wedding bands.

Always and all ways.

Me

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

A Map to My Heart April 13, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 12:13 pm
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What’s the way to my heart? Hmmm. I haven’t really had any reason to give this topic much thought in a long, long, looooong time because my heart already belongs to the hubs. But how did HE win it? And how has he managed to keep it all these years? THAT I can answer.

1) Be able to hold a conversation.

I like humor. I like logic. I like organizing and listing. I like daydreaming. Some of my favorite times are after our girl’s in bed and we’re up talking about our days or future plans.

2) Try to understand my anxiety.

It doesn’t always make sense, even to me. I often can’t tell you why I feel it or what will make it dissapate. But he always listens and tries his best to reason with me without judging.

3) Kick ass at parenting.

There’s no rule book or instruction manual. We’re all just winging it, doing our best to raise kids who are well-adjusted members of society. I’m so thankful that for the most part, he and I are on the same page when it comes to how best to raise our girl. And when we’re not, we’re always able to find a happy medium. Every day, no matter what, I’m a thousand percent certain that our girl has the type of father who will show her by example how a man should treat the people he loves.

4) Do the “boy jobs.”

Look. I was raised by two loving parents who didn’t really put much emphasis on gender roles. My sister and I were taught to be independent, to never rely on a man. So it took me a long time to feel good about giving up control of anything, even in my relationship. But once I did, it was like a weight was lifted off me. I’m still self sufficient in most things but see no harm in splitting responsibilities, either. Equal partners. Except for when it comes to killing spiders or cleaning up dog vomit. Those are boy jobs, for sure.

5) Never give up or walk away.

I’m often hard to handle. I can be irritable, grumpy, hard to live with. I sometimes try to isolate myself. But he’s held onto my heart all these years because he doesn’t give up on me. He’s patient, he pushes me to open up when all I want to do is disappear inside my own head, he often knows what I need even when I don’t.

 

Happiness is… April 4, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 2:01 pm
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Life feels a little…overwhelming…right now. Amid the covid-19 outbreak, we’re all dealing with a lot. Life has changed for us all and for me that looks a little like this: On March 12, my daughter came home from school for what would end up being the last time “indefinitely.” On March 20, her daycare closed its doors. On March 23, I began working from home, full-time, while also juggling “home schooling” my first grader. On March 27, my full-time hours were cut drastically. Retail establishments are closed. Restaurants are delivery only. Places of entertainment are closed. Grocery stores are limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at once. Playgrounds are taped off, unusable. Some days, I have the presence of mind to remind myself that we’re going to be okay. That we’ll get through this. That it won’t last forever and that we’ll all be stronger and more appreciative of the little things when it’s over. And other days, my anxiety gets the best of me, leaving me irritable, despondent, and without any oomph to even get dressed. Today is one of those “other” days.

And while scrolling through Facebook today, I saw a post shared by my cousin (and fellow blogger) Sasha. “30 Day Writing Challenge.” And I’ll admit, part of me thought, “Who starts a 30-day challenge on the fourth of the month?” And then I realized that this post is exactly what my spirit needed today. And surely starting on the fourth isn’t even on the top ten of wacky things going on in the world right now. So here we go. Day 1 of 30. Beginning with…a list of 10 things that make me really happy.

  1. My girl. – She doesn’t realize how much she’s helped me hold things together these past few weeks. When all I want to do is lay in bed and feel sorry for myself, she’s my reason to get up. To cook something. To take a walk. To watch a silly movie or play a kid game. We help each other find balance; work/school and fun. We help each other find levity in every day. I hope someday when she’s older and looks back on this time, she remembers it as a bonding experience. A positive and happy time in her childhood. And I hope someday she realizes that she’s saved me.
  2. My husband. – My second savior. We’ve been together for 20 years, married for 11. He knows how my mind works and can usually help curb my anxiety. Whether it’s giving me some much-needed alone time when he gets home from work, ordering a movie OnDemand to take my mind off things, or talking calmly and logically through difficult conversations, he gets me. I’m thankful that with all the “social distancing,” he’s someone I can still hold tight.
  3. Our home. – I’ve griped about this house for almost as long as we’ve owned it. It’s too small. It’s old and quirky. It sometimes feels too full, like the walls are closing in on me. But you know what? There’s so much love here. We’ve got everything we need to keep us safe and happy inside. Plus a backyard full of activities for our girl…playscape, sandbox, yard games, her bike and scooters. If we have to be quarantined, this is a pretty damn comfortable place to do it. In fact, I recently asked my daughter where is her favorite place to go. I expected her to waver between a few places she loves but that we can’t visit right now…perhaps dance class or the soccer field, bowling, Six Flags, the movie theater. But she surprised me by saying, “Home.”
  4. My sister. – She and I have a lot in common…including anxiety. So when my husband doesn’t quite “get” how I’m feeling, she surely does. She has always been–and continues to be–someone I can call any time, day or night, to vent to. To cry to. To calm me down. I value the friendship we have and that I can say anything at all to her without fear of judgement.
  5. My dad. – I worry about him every day. His age, his health, his stubbornness when it comes to letting someone else grocery shop for him so he can stay home…they’re all factors against him in this pandemic. Plus add in the fact that he lives alone and I worry that he’s lonely. He and I had a rough go of things after my mom passed but over the past several years, there’s been a change in our relationship. And it’s been so good. I look forward to lots more family dinners and outings in the (hopefully near) future. But until then, we’ll sustain ourselves through texts and calls.
  6. “Framily” and friends. – The calls, texts, and messages just to check in or stay connected have sustained me on most days. From people I consider family to people I haven’t seen in person for years, I’m thankful for every relationship. This week alone, I wept watching a college friend’s memorial video for her dad as well as a high school friend’s welcoming home of her fiance. I’ve joked with someone I’ve considered my best friend since grade school and offered an ear to someone I view as family who is experiencing a loss. Through good times and bad, it’s reassuring to know that we’re all in this together and that even on our darkest days, there are people out there who care about us.
  7. Writing. – I realized pretty early on today that I was having a rough day. And when that happens, I don’t want to snap or take my mood out on my family. So I said to my 6-year old, “I think I’m going to take some time out to write. Because I’m feeling grumpy and writing usually helps me feel better.” Her response? “Okay, Momma. When I’m grumpy, I like to color.” She gets it. Sometimes the time alone is truly needed. And writing has always been an outlet for my feelings. Blogging, journaling, even working on the novel that I started about a year ago…writing is always cathartic. I hope this 30-day challenge gets me putting fingers to the keyboard more regularly. What better time to start a new routine, right?
  8. Sunshine. – It’s not lost on me that my mood is better when the sun’s shining versus when it’s cloudy or rainy. And this past week has brought us lots of clouds. I’m thankful that this craziness is happening in springtime (rather than in the dead of winter) so we can at least be outside soaking up the vitamin D whenever possible.
  9. Essential oils. – I’ve seen the memes. I know you all think that white women believe they can cure cancer with a little clary sage and frankincense. And for the record, I’m not THAT white woman. But on a day like today where my mind needs a little boost of optimism, you’d better believe that a couple of drops of something citrus in the diffuser gives me the pep I need. Say what you will. I’m happy.
  10. The internet. – Imagine for a moment that this quarantine was happening in the 1980s. No social media. No smart phones full of game apps. No e-books. No streaming services. No video chats. What the ever-living hell would we all do?! Thankfully it’s 2020 and my devices all allow me to stay connected with friends, music, books, movies and shows.

On that note, I think I’ll go rub some essential oil on my wrists and head out for some sunshine with my girl before settling in for a night of trashy reality TV with my husband. Stay well, friends. And for those who want to join me in this challenge (or just get a sneak peek of what I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks), here’s a copy of the 30 prompts:

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

To My Husband on our 10th Wedding Anniversary… November 1, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 3:32 pm
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Highschool sweet hearts

We met a lifetime ago. We were kids, sixteen years old and clueless about all that would come. A first date, the culmination of your persistent asking. A first kiss in a parking lot on a cold January night as the snow fell around us. Prom nights. Graduations. College years spent 150 miles apart, and all the weekend road trips and all-night phone calls to stay connected. The night you proposed, and the night my car died to save our future. Every moment of our past has led us to now, almost 19 years later, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. And I want to thank you.

 

02Thank you for supporting me emotionally through some of the roughest points of my past. Moving out of my parents’ house at 17, my mom’s brief illness followed by her passing and the emotional fallout that came after, navigating some tumultuous family relationships. When I can’t catch my breath and feel like there’s no way out of the hole, you’re the one I turn to. You bring me logic when my mind spirals out of control. You calm me down when I need it most.

 

04Thank you for being a constant source of encouragement. The little things you do and say have the biggest impact on me. Helping me see the bright side of a particularly rough week at work, boosting my confidence in my parenting, reminding me of my strengths when I’ve forgotten myself. You have helped me find my backbone countless times when I otherwise feel like a pile of mush. (And who knows? Maybe someday I’ll actually write the book you’ve been telling me to write for years now.)

 

Thank you for helping me celebrate all that’s good in our lives. And there’s been so.05 much. good. It’s easy to glide through life and lose sight of the positives. And sometimes I have to consciously stop and take it all in. Without our partnership in life, I don’t think any of it would have been possible. From the big stuff like our home and our family to the smaller stuff like family date days…I say it all the time but it’s completely sincere every time I do: “I love our life.”

 

06Thank you for being Rylin’s other (often better) parent. I’ll never forget how happy we were to have conceived our girl. The birthing class, setting up the nursery, and pacing the halls of Johnson Memorial Hospital with me during labor, awaiting the arrival of our future. That feeling of panic when they “let” us take her home from the hospital, unsupervised. We’re not always on the same page when it comes to parenting but I wouldn’t want to share the responsibility with anyone else. I am almost constantly in awe of you as a father and so thankful that she has you to teach her by example how a man should treat her.

 

Thank you for doing your best to help me be my best self. I’ve told you for 18+ years 07that “it’s not your job to try to fix me.” But for 18+ years, you’ve done just that. And for that, I am more appreciative than you know. Whether it’s shouldering more than your fair share of household responsibilities or taking me away for a weekend getaway, you always know what my soul needs to smile brighter. And you do your best to deliver just that.

 

We are each wildly different people than we were when we met. And I’m absolutely proud of who we’ve become, both as individuals and as a couple. Our marriage isn’t perfect but I’m proud that we’re both willing to acknowledge its faults and find ways to bolster it. And each other. Every day, I’m proud to call you my husband and so thankful to be your wife.

I love you always and all ways and look forward to celebrating a lifetime more anniversaries with you.

03

Perhaps the first ever “funfetti” wedding cake (11/01/2008)

 

My Last Letter to You October 29, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 5:40 pm
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“In order to love who you are you can’t hate the experiences that shaped you.”
–Andréa Dykstra

 

Photobooth

That second friend request from 2009 is still sitting there in my Facebook notifications. You sent it after I messaged to ask why you’d disappeared from my friends list. I mean, it seemed odd that you would’ve deleted me, considering it was you who reached out to me when the first friend request came in 2007. Do you remember what you said to me then, in ’07? “It took me a while to find you on here because I couldn’t remember your last name.” Always the charmer, you were… Part of me chalked that comment up to a bruised ego after I declined to receive a visit from you in ’03. But part of me thought maybe it was true. Maybe I was that inconsequential to you.

 

Anyway, back to ’09. You told me you had deleted your old page but that you’d send me another friend request. Which you did. And there it’s been ever since. Pending. You never asked me how I even noticed your name was gone from my friends list. Or maybe you suspected why. Either way, I’ll own it. I still look you up from time to time. I wanted to know that you were happy, thriving, growing up. I’d seen that you got married—holy damn, I thought THAT day would never come! I’d seen pictures of friends and cars and your sister—all grown up! And eventually talks of a new girl who became a new wife…more cars and more friends and a little sports. And then October 2017 came around.

 

Summer 2000 a

Earlier this month, I clicked on that pending friend request to visit your Facebook profile and saw posts from August about the fact that you were missing. A GoFundMe page set up by friends. An update about you turning up in an ICU in New York. Far from home. Critical. Alone. My sister reached out to your family and learned about your prognosis. When she first started updating me on what your family told her, I could tell she was dancing around the harsh reality. I said, “It’s okay, Bree. I’m not attached to him like that anymore. You can tell me.” So she did. And my heart broke for you, for your family. You’re too young to be where you were. You had so much life ahead of you…so much more to experience. I sent a friend request to your sister and messaged her to tell her I was thinking about all of you. Taylor said she’d pass along the message. I’m not sure if she did. Or you heard it. Or if it mattered. But I was….I still am.

 

Sweet 16

My “Sweet 16” Party

Your mom recently posted to your Facebook page a plea for friends of yours to visit you. She wrote, “He believes he has been forgotten….He needs to know he is loved.” But I didn’t visit. I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t want to—because I did. And not because doing so would’ve caused a ripple in my household—though it would have. I didn’t visit because I was afraid. I was afraid of walking into that hospital room and you not remembering me or caring that I was there. I was afraid to find out that maybe I wasn’t as an important piece of your history as you were of mine. And that would’ve shattered me. Maybe not visiting was selfish of me. But let me make it abundantly clear. You were not forgotten. And you were loved, fiercely.

 

Forrest Park

Forest Park (MA) – summer 2000

I’ve been in this weird place since finding out your condition. I’m a very happily married woman, most days at least…haha! And it’s been, what? Seventeen years since we last hugged goodbye. But you will always be my first love and a huge part of my past. So I’ve been walking in this bizarre and lonely reality for a month now where my heart is aching and I feel like I can’t talk about it. Because the person I want to talk to most is Chris—my best friend, my husband. And he’s held onto that night in the parking lot on your last visit to town. Do you remember? He and I had been arguing, the result of you-related tensions boiling over. You said to him, “If I wanted her, I could have her.” As though it were supposed to ease his mind. I knew when you said it that it wasn’t true. And you knew it, too. But I think he believed it, which was heart-breaking to me in itself. And that was the night his disdain for you was solidified. Anyway, he and I have created a beautiful life together since that night…a rock-solid marriage, a loving household, the most amazing daughter I could ever dream to call mine. He’s given me stability, kept me grounded, and showed me far more patience than I probably deserve. But I can’t ignore the fact that I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the experiences you and I shared so long ago. You’ve always had a place in my heart, always will. Yet I feel like, out of deference to him, I can’t show how much your illness has been weighing on my mind.

 

Fall 2000

What was I thinking with that hair color?!

I woke up yesterday morning to read Taylor’s post. You’re gone. And I’m not sure what to do with all the feelings I’m feeling. So I asked Chris to search through the basement to find “the box” for me. You know the one…teen-aged girls squirrel away mementos from boyfriends in “the box.” And most women probably burn that stuff when they start a new relationship or toss it in the trash when packing up their girlhood room to move into a new house. It’s definitely disposed of in some way before they get married. But I’m one of the lucky few who holds no ill feelings towards any of my exes, including you. So I’ve kept it all. And last night, I’m glad I did. I opened that shoebox for the first time in 14 years—I know because there are emails tucked away in there, dated for 2003. And I took out what was on top…an old t-shirt of yours, the one I wore as a nightgown after you left. And I wept into it.

thumbnail_20171028_232450

 

I spent last night looking at old photos, reading old love letters, and remembering all the experiences we shared—the good and the bad. I know your friends will likely be sharing their memories of you over the coming days. And though ours go a bit further back than some, they’re important to me and I hope they were important to you, too. I won’t pretend to know the choices or circumstances that led you to where you ended up. Nor will I claim to know the man you’ve grown into. But I’ll tell you what I remember about our years together, a lifetime ago when we were kids….

 

QuinceaneraI’m going to remember how we met. You moved in across the street from me in the summer of 1998. You used to ride your bike past my house real slow. You later told me it was because you wanted to talk to me but were afraid. Can you imagine?! So you sent your little sister over to talk to me first. She was about 8 or 9 at the time, I think. And when it was time for Taylor to come home, you came over to get her…and chatted with me. You know, since you were there anyway. You probably thought that was a pretty smooth move back. Thinking about it now actually brings a smile to my face.

 

I’m going to remember what it was like falling in love with you. We fell hard and fast, as is the way with teens. (I was 15. You were 18. Your mom was nervous. Hahah.) I’d had boyfriends before but you were my first love. The kind that, to this day, still makes my stomach do backflips when I think back on it.

Summer 2000 b

 

I’m going to remember those square-cut diamond earrings that you wore in both ears. And that cologne of yours…. Did you know that for years after you, the slightest whiff of Tommy could bring me to my knees? I’m going to remember the way you cocked your fitted cap to the side when you wanted to lighten the mood. And the chain you never took off your neck. I’m going to remember how when you weren’t sure how to express your feelings, you spoke in song lyrics—you ALWAYS had the perfect song even when your own words failed you. I’ll remember the drawings and doodles and scribbled messages on marker boards. I’ll remember how you paused a little too long when speaking sometimes to avoid stuttering…a quirk you hated about yourself but one that I found endearing. I’ll remember Sunday morning softball games with my extended family…you could catch ANYTHING that was hit to the outfield. I’m going to remember making you pose for that god-awful “Titanic” themed portrait and the haunted house at Six Flags…and all that came before and after.

Drawing

I’m STILL trying to figure out the meaning of this…hahah!

 

I’m going to remember that no matter how much of a “tough guy” you tried to act like, you were a softy. I’ll remember that you preferred to joke when conversations got too heavy and often hid your insecurities with cockiness. I’m so glad I saved those letters, including the ones we wrote back and forth in a journal that summer you came to visit when I was living with Bree. Do you remember that? It was surprisingly YOUR idea and you did it happily in my sparkly blue pens. You said so much in those letters. And I either didn’t realize the gravity of them then or had just let the memory fade. Reading them last night was cathartic.

Journal - summer 2000

20-year old you questioned if people would miss you

 

And, sure, I’ll remember the arguments. The eye rolls. The exasperated sighs. The giving up. Hey, it’s all part of the experiences that shaped us, right? Love isn’t all rainbows and glitter all the time. And, with all the moving around you did, who could forget the goodbyes? There were tearful farewells in driveways and tearful drives to drop you off at home and tearful (and sometimes inappropriate…hahah) send-offs at bus stations. In fact, looking through old photos made me realize we did lots of crying. We got pretty good at goodbyes. But this one is the toughest because it’s the last.

 

Most of all, I’m going to remember how you made me feel. Safe. Loved. An important piece of your history. Flipping through the mementos of our time together has reminded me of who I was back then. And honestly, I hardly recognize that girl. She was adventurous and spontaneous and so so snarky. I miss her. And maybe if you’d looked back on those times, you might have thought the same about yourself—that you missed him. The him you used to be. I can’t picture him ever questioning how much he was loved.

Oct 2000

An excerpt from one of your last letters to me

 

I’m sorry, Nick. I’m sorry that we couldn’t have been the people we needed each other to be. But I’m not sorry for a single minute of the often tumultuous, on again off again, 2+ years of my life I spent with you. Or for any of the communicating we’ve done since then. Thank you for playing such a huge role in the experiences that have shaped me. And never EVER doubt that you were loved.

So Long

 

So long, old friend. I hope you find the peace that you couldn’t find here.

Love always,

Sierra

 

PS – Because I know you like to joke when the tears are coming, I’ll leave you with this. Typical Nick. Please note the god-awful “Titanic” themed portrait hanging on my wall behind you.

Cockiness

In memory of Nicholas Lorenzen (5/9/80 – 10/28/17)

 

Thank You August 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 5:21 pm
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It’s been what I’d call a rough week. Chris and I have been at the center of some lively debate and it’s been mentally and emotionally exhausting. I won’t go into detail but I will tell you that it all began with a comment about how “marriage is like a jail sentence” and the fact that the person who made the comment “doesn’t want to be handcuffed to someone for life.” I’ll also tell you that it’s weeks like this that make me appreciate (more than usual) the man I married.

We will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary this November. But we’ve been together—for the most part—for just under 13 years. I say “for the most part” because our relationship began when we were 16 and we’ve had our share of little teenage spats. Two of which (once during high school and once more during freshman year of college) resulted in us “taking a break.” You know how it goes. You have a fight so major that there’s just no getting past it. So you break up. And three weeks later you realize that you’ve done nothing but miss them, wonder what they’re up to, and ask yourself, “What was that fight about again?” Been there, done that. And yet here we are. Almost thirteen years later. More mature. More understanding of each others’ quirks and needs. And more in love than ever.

But how? We live in culture that is quick to give up on marriage, with 40+% of all marriages in the country ending in divorce. Then there’s domestic violence and infidelity and all those other couples who just seem to coexist without actually being happy to be together. What makes our relationship different than those? How have we gotten to where we are today? Sure, all the usual stuff….all the stuff psychologists and marriage experts will tell you are vital to building a strong marriage. We communicate—well and frequently. We show each other respect. We have similar ideals with respect to the “big deal” topics like finances and family. We share responsibilities. We have the perfect balance between “us” time and alone time—so neither of us are defined 100% by our relationship. We know how to fight fairly. But probably most importantly, we never miss an opportunity to make each other feel special.

Every day before he leaves for work, he finds me—usually I’m still in bed, so it’s not hard—and kisses my forehead. Some days he sends me a mid-day text message that just says, “Hi, beautiful.” Once in a while, it’s him giving me a foot massage while we curl up to watch a movie on the couch. (And, yes, I’ll admit it. He’s a better movie picker than I am. Just don’t tell him I said that.) He has a way of making me get that “melty” feeling inside. Even after almost thirteen years.

So today, just for fun, I stopped by the commuter lot where he parks his car to catch the bus into Hartford for work. I found his car, jotted a note on the first piece of paper I found in my car (a bank envelope), and  left it on his dashboard. It just took a few minutes, but I knew he’d smile when he got off the bus and found it waiting for him. And he did.

Yeah, I call my husband “Buddy.” Don’t judge me!

Now, I realize that marriage isn’t for everyone—and you’re certainly in that group if you view it as a jail sentence! And I also realize that you don’t have to be married to be happy in a relationship—my parents were together for over 30 years before they got married. But I can say with certainty that marrying Chris was the best decision I’ve ever made because he’s my best friend and I wouldn’t want to experience this crazy thing we call life without him. So thank you, Chris, for being my “cell mate for life.”